I saw this interview on Lehrer last night, another one of those with an interviewer, a neocon nut job, and a moderate. The interview, on PBS, revolved around PBS, its funding and whether or not it was worth having around. The guests (as you already know if you clicked above) were George Neumayr, executive editor of the American Spectator Magazine and neocon nutjob extraordinare, and KCPT in Kansas City President and C.E.O. Bill Reed.
The gall of the neo-con was in clear view, but what was most intriguing was the absolute idiocy of his attack. If anything, his ridiculous theatrics would only embolden the viewers. One of the more telling exchanges is quoted en masse below, and links to all the relevant information to show just how ... relevant, PBS is today.
JEFFREY BROWN: Sorry, I was going to ask the broader question, because some people have raised whether there is a role for public broadcasting at all today.
GEORGE NEUMAYR: Well, I think the question should be raised. Why are the American people financing with their tax dollars programming that offends them? Why are they picking up the tab for Bill Moyers? I've never heard a good answer to that question.
JEFFREY BROWN: Mr. Reed.
BILL REED: You know, Bill Moyers is -- Bill Moyers is not even on the air anymore, and you keep saying, you know, Pick up the tab for this liberal broadcasting network, when study after study has shown otherwise, and you can't put anything forward except your opinion about --
GEORGE NEUMAYR: Well, study after study shows the American people aren't watching PBS.
BILL REED: No, that's not true. At any given night, all the 500 channels you talk about on cable if you want to measure any one of those channels against public broadcasting, you'll see their audiences are minuscule.
But let me answer the question about why we need public broadcasting. I think if you ask parents of young children that question they'd give you a lot of reasons. We still have the best non-commercial, nonviolent, educational children's programming anywhere on television.
And secondly, in our prime-time schedules and our public affairs -- including Now -- Frontline may be the best documentary series on television ever, American Experience, this program - the NewsHour - Nature, Nova, all these programs, you cannot find them anywhere else on the commercial dial. But let me tell you one other thing that makes us distinctive from all the other program services.
They do not have a presence in Kansas City. We are a local community asset. We provide programs and services to the community -- for example, we serve 200,000 K-12 students in Kansas and Missouri. We have a collaborative effort with nine area colleges and universities that result in 50,000 people getting distance education every year.
We're currently doing a demonstration with data-casting with our digital transmitter, with homeland security. And you don't have enough time on this program for me to tell you all the other local programs and services we have here. Those are big reasons why this country still needs public broadcasting.
In addition, I couldn't find a good link to this information, so I will post it here piecemeal.
The total viewer numbers for the evening news...
A description of PBS viewership...
The audience trends for the The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, which started in 1973 as The Robert MacNeil Report and later became the half-hour MacNeil/Lehrer Report, stand in striking contrast to those of commercial network television. Data published in the PBS National Audience Handbook show that NewsHour ratings were remarkably stable over the five years from 1998 to 2003, averaging a 1.2 household rating. According to PBS, that translates to roughly 2.7 million viewers each weeknight and more than 8 million different or "unduplicated" viewers who watch at least one night a week.15 That is still significantly smaller than even third-place CBS. But the NewsHour's ability to hold its audience distinguishes it in network nightly news.
At a time when Nightline and other magazine programs are having difficulty, and commercial nightly newscasts are hemorrhaging audience, the NewsHour's numbers suggests a health that is unusual.